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Spokane dental offices preparing to re-open amid coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Amir Ganji has been sanitizing surfaces, buying new equipment and changing scheduling procedures to prepare for his office's opening on May 19.

SPOKANE, Wash. — For weeks, the Cannon Hill Dental office has had a quiet, empty waiting room. The only people who came in were people with dental emergencies.

But starting May 18, all Washington dental offices can re-open. Dr. Amir Ganji, who runs Cannon Hill Dental, says opening will be a relief after dealing with the frustration of being closed.

"I myself have had to furlough my team, because there was no work for them," Dr. Ganji said.

He had planned on closing his office for a short period of time in response to the coronavirus, but said his two week closure turned into two months when the Governor Jay Inslee instated his order.

While some dental work is not considered essential, Dr. Ganji says the lack of consistent check-ups has caused problems for some of his patients. He stressed that the closure has brought to light how essential dental care can be.

That's why Dr Ganji is relieved to open on May 19, the day after Governor Inslee is allowing all dental offices to re-open. But opening a dental office could be more complicated than opening other businesses.

"We are in a field where we generate aerosol from the mouth, and it goes into the environment," Dr. Ganji said.

That's exactly how the coronavirus spreads.

In order to keep his patients and his team safe, Dr. Gangi bought air filters, is doing fewer procedures that create aerosol, and has changed his scheduling procedure. His office will be seeing less patients than normal.

Dr Ganji says he is not nervous to open back up.

"We in dentistry have, for years, already taken the greatest precautions to protect ourselves and our team," he said.

But he said he understands if other people are still nervous to leave their homes for a dental procedure and will not pressure anyone to come in. 

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